Sunday, December 29, 2013

They're Good People, Mr. Potter!

And "good" is an understatement. I'm referring to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. I attended the last seasonal performance today of "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" and I was really very impressed.

Because of the subtitle "in partnership with UCF" of this theatrical venue, I'd always assumed it was a college production group and probably cute, but likely too amateur for my consideration. (Yeah, like I'm some snotty theater maven, right!) I figured I waste too much of my time watching B-movie drivel from Netflix to mess with sub-par live entertainment.

But actually this group is really a professional repertory theatrical group of actors. Young, yes, and probably many college aged, but professional nonetheless. And if this afternoon's performance is any bit a fair indication of their talents, then they surely have my seal of approval and I'll be back for more. Some cast members, as evidenced by their skill displayed today, would likely be utterly fabulous in actual Shakespearean plays, I can't wait to find out.

Today's fare, though certainly not Shakespeare, did have its moments where the ability for the artists to showcase their acting talents presented well for us, the appreciative audience. The plot was basically that we were supposedly the live studio audience here at the Lux Theater Studios at a radio station in New York City during the height of the Golden Age of Radio. The radio dramatization was that of the Frank Capra heart-tugging story of "It's A Wonderful Life" the Christmastime classic (though in the time frame of the Christmas Eve, 1946 setting, the movie, in reality, had just had its premier a week earlier). Actors were all done up in 1940's garb and the staging was made to look like a radio play production studio theater complete with stagehands, foley artists, stage manager and interspersed with period commercials for products like Lux Toilet Cake, Chiquita Bananas and Sal Hepatica Laxatives.

Prior to the show, the themeing commenced with the spontaneous appearance of costumed telegram boys calling out names (of some of us real audience members) delivering a telegram. As some of the key actors entered the "studio," young teen-aged girls acting as radio star fans swooned and screamed vieing for a precious autograph. The announcer called up a young wounded GI, recently back from the war (World War II, of course) and we applauded him.

We were instructed to pay heed to the large art deco styled signage that would flash when we were supposed to applaud. Also, the announcer warned us, to keep silent any noisy devices that may be in our pockets. "Things that haven't been invented yet. You know what I'm talking about...(wink, wink)" Soon the stage was all-a-tizzy as the countdown started a few minutes before we "went live" and were "broadcast" coast-to-coast to all 48 states.

The story played out quite well in this format perhaps since, like me, I'm sure everyone else in the audience was just as familiar with the film having seen it many, many times. Scenes and dialog were done virtually line for line as in the movie. The actors even acted and sounded like their famous Hollywood film counterparts. The guy playing the radio actor playing George Bailey (remember it's a role within a role) sounded just like an actor playing a radio actor playing George Bailey as done by Jimmy Stewart! (It was all very meta.)

And the guy playing the Announcer/Mr. Potter/other parts was a dead ringer for Lionel Barrymore playing Potter. I was really impressed with his vocal talents.

Of course, the scene where George meets with Potter in Potter's office begging for help after Uncle Billy "looses" the deposit money at the bank brought a wide grin to my face as I remembered fondly many a drunken night years ago when Ric and I repeatedly acted out this scene in total over-the-top style to the utter fascination and amusement of our friends and onlookers. Yeah, we were that good. In my head, at least.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

VIDEO SCRAPBOOK: My Favorite Video Games, NES, SNES and GameBoy

I was a late-commer to the NES. For most of the eighties I had my Commodore 64 so I didn't see the need to invest in a Nintendo. What's more, I was getting the feeling that I was too old for what was thought to be a kid's game system. But then the C64 started to get fewer and fewer games published for it and coincidentally my unit broke so I finally went and bought a second hand NES sometime around 1990. I enjoyed it only for a couple years though since it also broke and I decided to buy the newer Super Nintendo. And that too would only see a couple years in the video game spotlight when it got eclipsed by the PC. The Game Boy was played throughout the Nintendo era but it too was laid waste by the PC.

Here are some of my favs of the short-lived Nintendo era:

Romance of the Three Kingdoms (1990) NES

I saw the cashier at the convenience store across the street from my Logee Street apartment playing this game (while "working" LOL, I think he was the owner's son) and I was entranced. I got the NES to basically play this. It was a fantastic strategy game and I spent hours playing it.



Super Mario World (1992) SNES

When I bought the SNES and hooked it up to the TV in our living room Wayne poo-pooed it thinking he'd never be interested in such a kid's toy. But it wasn't long before he was playing this addictive little game virtually non-stop. Me too, of course. The colors, the animations, the music and the challenging yet fun stages were phenomenal.



SimCity (1992) SNES

I'd played SimCity on the C64 and on a Mac Plus but this SNES version blew those versions out of the water. The graphics, for the day, were stunning. Couple that with the music, changing seasons and the great SimCity dynamics of gameplay and well, there goes your weekend. Every weekend.



Monopoly (1992) Game Boy

Other than the ubiquitous Tetris which every Game Boy owner loved, I really enjoyed the Game Boy version of this board game classic. The Game Boy was the early nineties equivalent of smartphones today. Excellent mindless distraction tool when on the go. Great conversation-avoider as well when at functions where you don't really want to chat with anyone. Like around family.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Planning My Spring Vacation

I think I'll take Hulk on a Grand Tour of Dixie.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

IOA Hogsmede Village And Railway Construction

Here are a couple snapshots I took while at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of IOA on Monday. The weather was a chilly 68 degrees so the fake snow seemed less out-of-place than usual. I also got a look at the construction work being done for the new monorail connection station to the original park's Daigon Alley project also under construction.




Saturday, December 14, 2013

祝賀中國

Congratulations China on the success of the Chang 3 mission to the moon. The probe has landed, the rover deployed and mankind has for the first time since the 1970s placed a controlled vehicle on the surface of Earth's natural satellite in the name of science.

There is much still to discover about our moon, the arguably most prominent and attainable object in space in our time.

Sadly, my country, once the leader in the advancement of space technologies has decided to forget this goal assuming the few objectives achieved decades ago amount to the conclusion of the quest for knowledge among what once were referred to as "the heavenly bodies." Hopefully, nations like the People's Republic of China that have shown great strides in this discipline are set to continue mankind's path towards a greater understanding and appreciation of the resources that are there before us in space.

Once again, congratulations to the people of China for their achievement today, and thank you from an American knowing that the whole world benefits from steps like this in staying true to the vision of a future mankind in space.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Taking Cyberesp

Cy-ber-esp
noun
1. the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or being accountable for one's actions via the internet.

Cyberesp is a word I just made up but I think it fits-to-a-T the emerging concept of having to own up to one's actions when engaging in the sharing of information obtainable by others by way of media available online. It's a portmanteau, of course, of cyber, referring to things online and responsibility a concept as old as the first human communities. The extent one has to be responsible in a still-developing online community is subject to many evolving standards and much debate.

All right, here's the skinny...

So this past weekend, I had the bright idea (heavy facetiousness implied here) to do another of my tongue-in-cheek crazy posts where I show off my black humor nature and reveal discoveries I made by doing simple Google Maps searches, incorporating Streetview and using visual information shown in YouTube videos.

I framed it up in a format kinda emulating one of those tacky TMZ-style articles that give readers the low-down via sketchy, likely-tweaked "facts" and subversive paparazzi photos exposing popular celebrities.

I was poking fun at both the whole exposé "journalistic" style and the whole institution of celebrity fandom in general. Like making Perez Hilton and the people he posts about both look the fool. Witty right?

Well, not when it hurts someone or makes them feel uncomfortable. Never in the nine years I've had this blog have I ever wanted to do that. Well, maybe on one occasion, but I'll get to that in a sec.

The post I put up Saturday night included real-life facts about certain YouTube vloggers that I have to admit should not have been posted. Period. I'm owning this and taking cyberesp in hopefully minimizing the after effects.

So, for the first time in all the years of this blog, I deleted a post. And also deleted similar posts like it I'd written in the past. This is big. I am usually the only one cringing and feeling poorly about anything I post here because sometimes, in retrospect, I put out TMI but I keep it up 'cause I want this to be real. Sometimes being real means showing vulnerabilities, flaws and all those things that go bump in the middle of the night. That's life. But it's MY LIFE and that is totally my call as far as sharing of information, but when one writes about other people, there has to follow a certain filter system especially if the subjects aren't available to validate or sanction such information. In there, I dropped the ball.

I gotta be honest too...most of the time I post something on here I figure no one is reading it but me. It tends to feel like I have free reign to say anything I want. My own lonely cyber soap box with an audience of none. But I guess that's not quite how it is.

I kinda learned that back in 2009 when I was having to deal with that horrible, horrible boss at the Chase Bank call center. I got pissed off and posted a rather sleazy photo of her I captured from somewhere, don't remember where, and within a few weeks, my pageview count shot through the roof. Well, "through the roof" in comparison to the virtually nonexistent traffic for any other post. There were comments placed on the post too, and they weren't all from the spambots. My lovely, lovely spambot readers.

Here spambots, a salutation in your language: 0010101010010001111000.

You're welcome.

See. My somewhat twisted humor (at least I'm smiling) at work again. I can't help it. It just pops out.

What I want to assure anyone who gives a fuck though, and I know that may well be no one, is that I'm not a dick. In regards to this weekend's post, I didn't put stuff up that I thought could in anyway lead to harm or even the potential for harm. I should have kept in mind that there are sick fucks out there though and they may have nefarious designs.

What spurred this re-think of my post was a video of one of a couple of the people I wrote about bemoaning the fact someone put their address in the comment section of one of their videos. I sure didn't do that and never would but I knew immediately where the commenter must have gotten that information. Since I had just the night before put that info in my post, someone took it upon themselves to "share" that with all the viewers of these guys' videos.

Checking my stats on this blog, I found that indeed my pageview count had skyrocketed right after I put up that post.

Look, I make no money off this blog. I have no Adsense and I have no intention of taking it along those lines. This was and will continue to be an ad hoc 21st century cloud-stored diary of my life's little meaningless trials and tribulations and blibbidy-blabber about the funnier, or sometimes not so funny things I find in this crazy scavenger hunt I call my life. I wasn't out to stir shit up so I could get more pageviews. I frankly don't care if anybody reads my dribble anyway. It's mainly for me. I don't daily vlog, I'm way too camera shy for that. The written word is my self-expression medium of choice. I clickity-clack little plastic cubes and shit appears on my monitor. It's what I do.

So, dear readers, including all the majority of you in Malaysia (according to the dashboard stats page...what's up with that?) please don't do trolly things with what I write. That's douchbaggery at its finest. Grow a virtual pair and take cyberesp!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

A Cappella Done Damn Right!

Oh the harmony! The harmony! ;)



And also there's this. The first, and most likely the last Christmas song to grace my blog. Don't get your hopes up Christians, I'm not "seeing the light." I just hear good music, no matter what the lyrics!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Summoning The Rainbow Magic

Oh come back to me Rainbow Magic!

I need you!

For the past three weeks or so I've been off the Phen. I reserved about a month and a half supply and I just now took the first of that reserve. The idea is that the hiatus from it should have somewhat of a reboot effect allowing the body to treat tonight's dose similarly to the way it treated the first dose of this drug back in April. Like it was Magic!

Oh how mighty it was then. But over the months of its use this summer, my body became slowly but surely accustomed to it and eventually it was no more than an equivalent to a 5-hour energy cocktail.

In the past three weeks without it, my weight shot up of course. It's no mystery why. Drinking and eating all the bad things and totally ignoring exercise...it'll do that to ya. No surprise.

So we'll see in a few minutes if I'll get my Rainbow Magic back. Took it about five minutes ago and don't quite feel anything yet. But I'm tired, hungover and I feel my stomach still contains remnants of my morning meal: a whole DiGiorno's Supreme pizza washed down with a 6-pack of Harp lager along with a deuce of Foster's oilcans followed by a bowl of ice cream and Tastycake snack.

Oh man. Do I need the Magic now!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

VIDEO SCRAPBOOK: My Favorite Video Games, The Age of C64

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984), Wishbringer (1985), Hollywood Hijinx (1986) Commodore 64

When you click PLAY on the video below, you'll see why I included 3 games in one listing. Since they're all classic INFOCOM text only adventures, they make for a rather boring video. But when playing these games, they were anything but boring. Countless hours were spent, many greatly sleep deprived as I tried to get the babel fish, deliver my post and play "Misty" on the old piano.

I was in my twenties now and wanted more "adult" games. Shooters and arcade action fare were, to me, more kid's stuff. And the arcades were disappearing rapidly. Those that remained kept only the most popular games which didn't necessarily reflect my tastes.



Lords of Conquest (1986) Commodore 64

Like RISK and you probably wouldn't think it with these now-dated simplistic graphics, it was a bit more strategic (ie less luck based like RISK) Oh how the plinky 8-bit sounds the game makes brings back memories of hours playing this.



Empire: Wargame of the Century (1987) Commodore 64

One of the spiritual precursors to Civilization, featuring only military production and conquest it was endearingly simple but the AI was wickedly intelligent. Or it seemed that way. This was a lot harder than you'd think.



Legacy of the Ancients (1987) Commodore 64

I loved this RPG which seemed very "open world" for its day.



Zac McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988) Commodore 64

My fascination with text-only RPGs morphed as the industry did into the text and graphics RPGs of the latter part of the decade. This one was a hoot. It was one of several (The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion and Leisure Suit Larry come to mind) that were targeting a more adult demographic by savvy game developers who knew we were the primary ones plunking down $50 a pop for these games.



Wasteland (1988) Commodore 64

Probably the best text/graphics blend RPG of the era, Wasteland was the genesis of the Fallout series. It was to my recollection the first RPG dealing with a post-apocalyptic dystopian future.




Sunday, November 17, 2013

What's It All About, Alfie?

VIDEO SCRAPBOOK: My Favorite Video Games, First Era

Here are some examples of my then favorite video games from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. I catalogue each by name, approximate year I fell in love with it and the system it ran on.

Combat (1977) Atari 2600

My youthful but weary and sleep-deprived eyes witnessed a new fascination dawning before me literally as the sun was doing the same that Christmas morning so many years ago. My brother and I played this on our new console system sitting cross-legged on the rug in front of the Philco color TV all night long. It was the one gift we'd been allowed to open on Christmas Eve and it was the only one we cared about throughout the next day, virtually neglecting the other boxes stuffed under the tree and ignoring the festivities of the holiday. Fuck baby Jesus, this was our God now!



Space Wars (1979) Arcade Game

I had been regularly taking the bus down to Lincoln Mall virtually every Saturday, plugging quarter after quarter into the exciting new video games at the Dream Machine arcade parlor, watching pinball machine after pinball machine get replaced by another video game console.  I preferred vector graphics games like Lunar Lander and Star Castle but Space Wars was my favorite. That is until later that year when they installed...



Tail Gunner (1979) Arcade Game

And though in love with this new game and its stunning use of "3-D" effects, my heart would soon be won over by yet again another "3-D" vector graphics offering...



Battlezone (1980) Arcade Game

I was amazed not only by the gameplay and immersion I experienced with this game I was thrilled that for some reason, at least here at this Lincoln Mall arcade, I never had to wait in line to use one of the two machines they had. Perhaps it was the intimidating looking console with its tank periscope-like viewer or the outrageous special pricing of 50 cents a game but it wasn't as popular as other fare in this twinkling, clinking, chirping, chiming, kid-packed place.



Berserk (1980) Arcade Game

It was the awesome Cylon-like computerized voice effects that hooked me to this otherwise simplistic side-scroll shooter. When the evil robots shot you down, I always thought they said "Got the human in that time period!" and even though I've since learned that it supposedly is "Got the human, got the intruder!" I still hear "in that time period" no matter how many times I listen. You be the judge, listen here:



Yars Revenge (1982) Atari 2600

By now I had my own Atari 2600 and no longer used the shared one from years earlier. And this was one of my favorite games for the console. That sound made when that scary energized ball thing came out and then the cascade of sound and color when I shot it while coming for me: silicon orgasm.



Q*bert (1982) Arcade Game

This cute and colorful game was part reflexes, part puzzle-solving and games like it started to define a branching of the industry from mere twitch-based shoot-em-ups to a thinking-players-game.



Gyruss (1983) Arcade Game

I could go back to CCRI's Flanagan Campus main building today, walk through to the cafeteria and enter what in the early '80s was the Game Room (who knows what it functions as today*) and point exactly to where this console stood. That's how familiar I became with this, my first friend in college. "3-D" graphics, challenging yet rewarding and a sweet disco/rock Bach soundtrack. Can you blame me for falling in love?

*I searched online and found a blueprint of the school from the CCRI website and it's now called a "Club Room." Whatever that is I'm sure it doesn't have video game consoles in it. Poor kids these days.




NOTE: Start all of these videos at the same time and let them run simultaneously. Man, it's like you're in the midst of a golden age arcade parlor! Totally Rad, Dude!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

An Early Holiday Present

Oh the fake spirit of Santa Claus or whatever fictitious gift-giver makes shit like this happen! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The bitch upstairs is moving out right now!!!!

Her and her posse are loading up the truck and movin' to Beverly! Well, probably not since they haven't likely discovered "black gold...Texas tea" or anything like that. I think their skippin'. Serves the landlord right for renting to lowlifes.

The website doesn't list the apartment as becoming soon available which is why I think they are either breaking their lease or have already been evicted and the landlord is awaiting their departure before listing it online. Plus, I mean, it's the middle of the month. Who's lease ends then? I guess it's possible, but I reckon it's not the case.

It doesn't matter though. All I know is that my prayers to the Great Spaghetti Monster, if I ever had subconsciously made them, have finally been answered.

Goodbye constant goosestepping footfalls above my head.
Goodbye periodic floods from above when she'd get stoned and let the tub overflow.
Goodbye perpetual clouds of cigarette smoke wafting down from her porch enveloping my place.
Goodbye to the non-stop clop-clop-clop, bang-bang-bang, squeal, squawk, scream, screech, giggles and tantrums of the little kiddies.
Goodbye to the persistent rain of debris like candy, trash, toys, crayons, dirty mop water and cigarette butts down onto my abused patio.
Goodbye to the occasional blaring Spanish music booming through the ceiling.
Goodbye to the nightly ritual of 'Gina Washing Time.

Now of course, similar as to when any apartment here becomes vacant, comes the unsettling question: Who will be the next occupant? And will they be better? Or could it be possible that they'd end up being worse?

Hopefully the freaking unit will stay vacant and peacefully silent 'till at least next Spring. Then I'll request that the power of the Easter Bunny manifest into bringing me another holiday gift in the form of a normal, quiet and respectful neighbor.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Day 205: 44 Pounds

Almost two months since the last weight loss update and, as you can tell, it's been an enormous fucking plateau. And it hasn't been all flatlined either...It stayed in the upper 260's much of the time and was up to almost 10 pounds above current just last week. See chart:


I was dealing with the self-embarrassment and self-frustration of having to account for massive beer and wine calories every day. Yup, pretty much every day. The old "Miller Time" and "Weekends Were Made For Michelob" syndromes were crushing my will to stay on track. It's amazing I didn't gain more than I did. Of course, these behaviors eventually led to me abandoning the My Fitness Pal calorie tracking and I started to just let it all hang out.

There were Kitchen Sink Sacrifices on several occasions in late September. The largest was an entire 12-pack of Sam Adams which was NOT on sale. Ouch. $16 bucks down the drain. But these eventually stopped since I just didn't care anymore.

How did I avoid a total relapse after this? I'm really not sure. But last week I decided that enough was enough. A couple of weekends ago, I woke up hungover again for like the 4th day in a row but this time, there was a nagging vague memory of the previous night. Much of the memory had been blacked out...not unusual, I blackout frequently even if I only have a six pack. But what I remembered pissed me off to no end. I scurried to my wallet to verify my suspicion and there in the ceramic bowl where I keep my wallet was a receipt. I knew what it said.

Semoran Food Store
Time: 20:16
12PK HEINEKEN...$12.99

Having drank my way through my first 12-pack around dinnertime, I went and bought this, the second 12-pack, around 8:16 PM. Busy traffic, prime cop scouting time, 12 beers in me so B.A.L. (blood alcohol level) probably over .20 and, worst of all, IN MY NEW CAR!

Yup, I was already driving drunk in my brand new car, three days after I got it.

Never mind the fact that I'm just getting reacquainted with stick so my response time is a tad slow (but my drunk-self INSISTS I drive so much better when buzzed) and the total lack of concern for mine and anyone else's safety, if I did get stopped, I'd be essentially screwed to hell. Goodbye new car, goodbye job, goodbye freedom.

So I watched a BBC documentary to get motivated once again to stay off the dangerous and fattening adult beverages, and get back on track. It talked about the benefits of fasting, especially the 5-2 fasting diet. Now I do think that taking it too far, ie. trying to replace your daily eating plan permanently may be a bit difficult with something like this, but at least a simplified, modified approach where the focus of 2 days per week is to maintain really low calorie intake and on the other days eat wisely but not totally overboard. This plan could allow for the usually forbidden foods like pasta, pizza, Chinese, etc. without "giving up." I know that for me, anyway, I really can't be trying to incorporate drinking into this plan. For more than calorie control issues, I know I've got to keep away from that.

We'll see how it goes. It's helped in the past few days get the drop in weight back to 261 so it might have something going for it.

All I know, with Great Plateaus like the past couple of months and the threat of plummeting down into my own version of the Valley of the Dolls, the landscape isn't as bucolic as when I'd originally set out on this journey. There are plenty of obstacles and hazards to be concerned about, and, this trip is gonna be a whole lot longer than I used to think it would be. We sure the fuck aren't in Kansas anymore.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bob Carr Nazis

This pic, from another production company, shows correct period costuming.
I went to see my second live opera yesterday at the Bob Carr. "The Barber of Seville" featured good rousing musical numbers, pretty, albeit anachronistic costuming, a cookie-cutter yet epitomically farcical plot and adequate lighting.

The orchestra was positioned this time in its pit yet they were exposed as opposed to during Broadway series musicals when the orchestra (of the touring troupe, not this, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra) is buried under the stage. This foreshortening of the stage depth may be the reason for the rather abysmal set design, but maybe it's just a lack of talent...the set components and props that were used were not that visually aesthetic or creative.

But let's get right into all the other things that just weren't right about this performance, shall we? 'Cause I ain't no reviewer for the Sentinel and I'm not going to be hurting anyone's feelings since they'll never read this. And besides, having to endure yet another visit to the much despised Bob Carr puts me into a snitty, cynical mood.

Yet again, the music emitting from the orchestra pit was actually more than adequate...it really was quite good (The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra can hold its own any day with other better known orchestras I'm sure) but that quality doesn't matter if you have to strain to hear it. Makes me wonder if they even have them mic'ed? Come to think of it, I couldn't see any visible mic'ing on the performers either (like the flesh-tone little bobbles taped to performers' foreheads in the Broadway productions). It could be they prefer to use only acoustical sound, maybe out of veneration of some tradition? If so, this would be just one of the many differences I've become informed of regarding Opera vs. Broadway Musical performances...especially here, at the dreaded, and evil...oh yes, evil...Bob Carr.

Regarding the music as composed, it had a little bit of everything...peppy, jaunty numbers and swooning romantic tomes but other than the iconic "Figaro" piece, it just seemed, well, kinda forgettable. I didn't come away playing a newly-learned tune in my head. And as for the aforementioned "Figaro" piece, it came up pretty early on, in the first half which was unfortunate for me since I was imprisoned in the cheap seats by the Bob Carr Nazis.

I was five minutes late and arrived to the doors of the orchestra seating area just as the overture had begun. Rather than allow me to quietly and discretely scoot to my seat without much of a fuss, especially since the performance hadn't really begun yet, the usher (ie. self-appointed Gestapo enforcer) told me I couldn't be seated since I was late and I'd have to wait until intermission. Then as if to take pity on me she offered to guide me to the rear of the orchestra seats to see if there were any available seats I could use until intermission. Oh, brother!

Then she was distracted since other people were showing up late and she left me standing there while she went to impose her Nazi rules on them too. Indignant and impatient since the performance was starting without me, I tried sneaking down the corridor towards my appointed seating area and she snapped at me, insisting I follow her to the cheap seats.

She poked her head through the door, used her little flashlight to find an empty seat and let me slide in. But then she left me. The door closed behind her and suddenly I was there standing in the pitch dark unable to see anything except the stage area which itself was only dimly lit to allow focus on the orchestra, illuminated only by their low lumen music stand lamps. No subtle LED aisle strips or even step lights. I now saw (ironic pun intended) why one couldn't be seated during the performance. There was no way I'd be able to see well enough to find my row letter without a flashlight or light from a cell phone. And that would be undoubtedly rude.

Since the Nazi bitch abandoned me without pointing out the available seating, I was left just standing there avoiding feeling my way around lest I potentially be groping peoples' heads and shit. So I had to just stand there, facing the stage until my eyes adjusted slowly to the darkness. After what seemed an eternity I walked down the aisle and stood near the wall right at where I estimated my assigned row to be. I watched as the performance began and stayed there for the first few sets but eventually resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't unobtrusively find my proper row and even if I could, I was in seat 22 which meant I'd be pissing at least 21 people off as I tried to scoot my fat and clumsy self past them. I went back to the cheap seats which I could now see and sat in a relatively deserted section dejectedly.

When intermission came I was feeling the effects of my long day (having stayed up since the evening before due to work) and needed some caffeine. I bought a Diet Coke at the bar and proceeded to make my way back and find my assigned seat. But, shouting "Halt!" in a terse German accent (or so I imagined) the same scrunchy-faced, crimson-colored polyester blazer uniformed, old evil Nazi munchkin lady blocked my way, hands held out as if to actually push me away (I'm not kidding about that, she was really going to physically redirect me if needed!)

"Food and Beverages are NOT ALLOWED in this area, sir!" she barked as she nodded towards a faux-engraved, faux-brass sign posted on the nearby wall indicating this rule.

"Since when?" I boldly barked back, daring to challenge her. (I've always been allowed to seat with beverages before, it was allowed...everyone brought shit to the seats.) She went on to explain that the rules were different for the Broadway series performances than they were for the opera.

"That's how it has always been." she asserted imperiously, perhaps as a jibe to my obvious lack of knowledge of the proper opera etiquette. Well excuse-fucking-me! (No, I didn't say that, but oh, I sure wanted to.)

I meandered back to the bar, finished my soda, walked properly empty handed now back towards the seating area and as I passed her again I gazed at her coolly, jerked my right hand up into a quick Nazi salute, mumbled "Sieg Heil!" and marched quickly down the steps. (Yes, I actually did this. I'm such a prick.)

I finally sat in the seat I'd paid for but I found I was sandwiched between a snobby "gracefully-graying" foo-foo Winter Park type with her voluminous Irish wool cable-knit sweater/shawl cascading across the arm rest we "shared" and a stern looking old baldy who didn't utter a peep, didn't even chuckle at the comic parts of the performance and appeared inconvenienced to give even a faint half-hearted applause where applicable. Oh, and of course he was even bigger than me, smelled slightly of tobacco and breathed like Darth Vader.

The last few things that detracted from my enjoyment of this opera were somewhat minor, but seemed inappropriate or cheesy. The subtitles, high above the stage, were frequently worded in contemporary slang and modern idioms (like when one character is dismissive of another saying: "Whatever.") which was surely meant as a way of continuing the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the opera into another medium but really...where does it go next? Having characters set in the 17th century saying "LOL" or "Let's be BFFs?"

And mentioning setting in time reminds me of another issue I have. The opera's plot and events, though, of course, totally fictional (and too stupidly inane to be believed under any other circumstance) supposedly take place in the "17th century." Well, in this performance, the costuming and, I guess, set design (I'll rib that in a minute) portray fashions more in the style of the mid to late 18th century (silk brocade waistcoats, knee-length breeches, powdered wigs). From researching on the web, it appears many performances of this opera are styled as such so perhaps it was intended to be purposefully anachronistic by Rossini or tradition has set it as the expected style perhaps as a symbolically metaphorical nod to the time just before the French Revolution since the opera and that period of time both have similar themes (rigid class hierarchy, entitlement of the nobility and arranged marriages).

The set was almost minimalist and looked like they ran out of money in their budget. Some elements didn't fit well in my opinion like the contemporary-styled umbrellas hung by wire in one scene, obnoxious strobe light effects in a zany slapstick "tie-up the doctor, fling papers all about and flee the scene" act to the clearly-aluminum ladder propped up to the "balcony" near the end.

But in the end, I did, despite all these detractions enjoy the opera. In the "Fredda ed immobile, comme una statua" Act I finale, the lighting effects added a lot of pleasing visual interest and dynamics to the puppet-miming characters. And in the Act II finale, the golden balloons on sticks (and the hilariously near-naked butler and maid) are another nice touch. Overall, the vocals and instrumentals were superb and the comic elements were indeed funny. I didn't care about the romantic love story other than rooting for the cunning and vibrant underdogs and hissing the arrogant and selfish doctor. But I think that's the intent. The story used the trite stereotypical "damsel-in-distress" formula merely as a way to frame the comedy and frivolity.

I liked it. I really did. But, to be honest, I really do like this version a bit better:

.

Ha ha! Seriously though, I guess I'll now just have to wait patiently for the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to replace the stodgy and decrepit Bob Carr. Its Nazi staff will hopefully not follow.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One More Year Of The Bellagio Blues

I'd been hemmin' and hawin' pretty much all year over whether I should renew my lease for my apartment or leave. Well, Tuesday, not without a great amount of reservation, I put pen to paper and decided to stay for another year.

I recently wrote here and here about some of the issues I have and how I felt I needed a change. When I actually got serious about shopping around for new digs, it turns out where I am isn't so much of a bad thing after all.

Though I think it would be great to capitalize on the opportunity which still exists for buying at reduced prices, I still have some big obstacles. My credit is still not where I'd like it to be if I were to take out a mortgage. The income I make relegates me to buying small, ie. condo, and some in the lower price ranges are scarier than comparable sized apartments in the lower end rent areas. I don't have any savings so I couldn't place a down-payment. And I believe the days of no down payment mortgages are long gone.

Rents in Central Florida are rising faster than housing prices though and that's put a strain on finding an improved apartment situation to my current state. I set out Monday to view some of the more "affordable" prospects and frankly, by the end of the day, I was shocked. Available rentals in my "replacement" price range (that is, comparably equal or just a bit higher than what I pay now) are down-right frightening.

They all seemed old, smelly and I could sense that I'd be dealing with high energy bills due to ancient appliances and A/C as well as my old yet ubiquitous nemesis: bugs. What's more, though I complain about my current complex's low-end residents, these places, summed up by judging them, their cars and the surrounds by looks alone (c'mon, we all do it) really informed me that my situation could be a LOT worse off.

Since Hulk is getting, according to the latest dashboard reading, about 36 MPG, I don't think the 15 - 20 mile commute each way is going to be too expensive. It'd be nice, especially in regards to time and efficiency to live much closer to work, but from the selections I viewed this week...the cost savings would easily be chewed up and then some by the higher cost of a better quality place, or risk the potential for greater stress and depression by living in more of a ghetto.

I'm a person who has simple needs and relatively affordable hobbies so I usually, on a day to day, month to month basis, don't feel poor. I eat and drink whenever and pretty much whatever I want (often times that's not a good thing though), I go on budget vacations that are fun and interesting enough, I attend movies, live theater and frequent theme parks regularly. I can usually buy whatever video game of other techno-distraction that catches my fancy. I pay bills on time and without straining my budget. I don't feel deprived.

But that's all so very dependent on my current housing costs which are well below standard. If I had to pay what I'd really feel much more comfortable in; say a luxury resort style condo or apartment complex or, better yet, my own single-family home, I'd put an unbearable, and inevitably doomed strain on my finances.

So I know my place. I may be poor, but I refuse to go back to being poor and struggling to survive.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Now Ends The First Chrome Era

My browser preferences change over time. Whether it's real or perceived added benefits, faster or more dazzling technology or just simply being a herd animal and following the general techno-savvy hipster trends I've oscillated between the old-school Big Two and New Age Big Three several times.

Today, I go back to Firefox as my preferred browser. But not without reservations.

I really liked Chrome. It was simple, very fast and, well, hip. It was the cool offering from a technology company who had arguably almost as much of a fanboy following as its somewhat-rival Apple. Google was, in the early 2000s the trend-setter.  But, like everything, and especially true of anything to do with technology, times change.

In the past few days I've noticed what surely must be a compromise to the power of money. Boardroom deals have surely been put into play. Chrome no longer seems to support the Ad Block extension. Oh, I still have it installed...it just doesn't do what it is designed to do anymore. All ads are coming through on all sites that have them. This is not acceptable to me. But surely, I think, I knew it was gonna end sometime. Blocking all ads, as Ad Block did so well for quite a while now, not just for me, but the millions of others using it...the corporations that now dictate the way the web works would have none of it.

Firefox now seems to be the only browser where Ad Block is still doing its thing. So, until Firefox too is swayed by the greedy corporate bastards, it's my default browser. Again.

Firefox was maverick when it first appeared on the scene in the early 2000s. As the de facto replacement for the by-then-obsolete Netscape using the same Mozilla recipe, it was easy to get used to, fast, fully-customizable, and offered robust support for emerging and continually-updating embedded technologies such as Flash and Java. Most importantly though, it solidly set the standard for browsers to remain free. Though it's taken for granted today, browsers at the turn of the millennium were on the cusp of becoming what at least the Big Two were pining for: a fee based product or remaining a totally free, full-featured software tool.

The late '90s Browser Wars pitted the then-leader Netscape Navigator against the upstart, yet heavily funded and ubiquitous Internet Explorer. Netscape had been, throughout its Golden Era of the mid-nineties slowly but steadily pivoting its product towards a suite of proprietary web tools which were more and more price tag oriented. Microsoft and its infinitely powerful crystal ball (or Bill Gates' pact with the Devil perhaps) foresaw the future of the web. It knew costs of development and deployment of its browser software was dependent on support from the greater (and growing) web developer community that chose to enable their sites for optimization for only a few browser technologies. Microsoft needed to ensure IE was their primary focus. This would ensure IE's popularity among PC users and thus, by association, Window's continued dominance in the choice of PC manufacturers selection for operating systems.

For me, my ultimate browser preference has always been for the least intrusive, quickest and simplest option. Yet I also want support of developers and add-on apps. What's more, it has to be slick-looking and cool. I want it all.

My first real web browser was a Mosaic version of the NCSA developed software. I think it was supported by the University of Wisconsin, or something like that. Before this nearly everyone was relegated to using America Online's proprietary portal.

Less an actual browser and more like one of their then standard forum interfaces it provided users like me with a mirrored virtual WWW. Only AOL pre-selected sites would be offered and in a format compatible to its software. Once independent ISPs caught on and AOL lost its hegemony, people were free to choose their own browser software. But let me tell you, by saying "people" I'm not using that identifier as one would today. Today, that term would refer to the current market of internet users. And today that literally means virtually everyone. But back then "people" using the internet were still predominantly white, Western, male, young and well, by the nature of the beast, geeky.

When Netscape came on the scene it seemed like it all made sense now. Netscape, if I recall correctly, was the first to integrate FTP, Newsgroups and  the WWW into one package. And when web-based email started emerging, it simplified all your tools into one relatively slim package. Very important in the hard drive rationed, memory budgeted, CPU taxed world of the 1990's PCs.

Internet Explorer came out sometime in the late nineties (I'm writing all this without checking reference material such as Wikipedia...I'll do an UPDATE at the end to let you know how accurate my memory is) and it just seemed to put Netscape to bed. For me at least. I was reluctant, at first, to adhere to the new trend. Even simply calling Bookmarks "Favorites" seemed weird and alien. But it grew on me. And others, apparently, since it grew in popularity to eventually win out on this round of the wars and Netscape trod begrudgingly yet progressively into the sunset.

Yet it started to become more and more encumbered and less adaptable for my tastes. I think it was version 6.0 where it started already looking and performing like a hurdy gurdy in a techno band. I ditched it for Firefox and imported my "Favorites" into now-nostalgically named "Bookmarks" once again.

Chrome came out at a time when GUI interfaces still clinged to semi-3D shaded accents for application controls (back button and the like) and it seemed too 2D and plain. But it got the tabs concept "right" and won me over to using them. It was undeniably fast as well. Plus, it was a Google product and I was a Google fanboy.

But not allowing users to utilize technology which limits the intrusive and corrosive behavior of those who see the web as merely a way to inject more Capitalism into our short lives? To further exploit us into being no more than fodder for the greedy Corporate Machine? To kowtow to the Old World archaic Imperialistic attitudes and subject users to manipulation, subjugation and forced obsequity to the Powers that Be?

This is not a tool I'll use. Because the web must remain, forever and always, FREE, as our Forefathers Tim Berners-Lee, Marc Andreesen and Al Gore intended.

We now pause for a brief commercial message...

NOT!

UPDATE: My timeline is pretty much accurate but I made sure that Chrome had both AdBlock and AdBlock Plus (two different ad blockers) and it's all good again. So I guess the Chrome Era marches on.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Last week when Nugget started making that strange noise she made a couple years ago I rolled my eyes in frustration. Sure enough, right on schedule, American cars start to become one thing after another repair-wise as soon as they pass the 60,000 odometer miles point. Nugget proved to be no exception.

The wiring issue making the speakers only half work intermittently, said wiring issue affecting the front left directional light, the directional light auto-off after turn function broken, even the clock that can't maintain the right time. These hassles, which were bearable in order to avoid repair costs but a nuisance (and in the case of the direction light being out, somewhat a safety risk) got joined by that loud noise when the speed reached 30 mph or higher. To find out what it was, it took me a YouTube video, a Pep Boys inspection and this blog post where I mention the same issue occurring a couple years back. Only then it was still under warranty. Now, the estimate to repair it was in excess of $250. To top it off, I noticed this week that Nugget endured some finish issue where some fine gritty yet sticky black dust coated the roof and parts of the hood and trunk. I took it to a car detailer and they said it would come off but not without a lot of work. $100+ of work.

So, I utilized my pre-approved credit union auto loan and traded Nugget in. So long my dear Nugget, but you were starting down the path of a slow destruction of my budget. Better to go to a new home so I can make room for this:


Within a few glances of this incredibly fun-styled mini-car, with its neon green metallic finish I knew what her (or I guess his) name would be:

HULK!

And like the roller coaster he reminds me of, he's just as much fun to drive. A perky little 5-speed, I'm back, finally, to manual shift. I loved driving my stick shift hatchback cars (the Subaru, the Geo Metro and the Focus) and I'm so glad to be back in one again. I have a bit of a bigger frame to put the smaller sized car but I'm working on that. Slowly but surely.

The car is a brand-new 2013 Chevy Spark. And let me tell you, even though I'm not ecstatic about having a car bill again, I think I got a pretty good deal. With the $4,700 trade and $1000 down, I financed a mere $8,000...for a brand new car! With a 36 month payoff, and a pretty decent rate, my payments are very manageable and not a lot going to interest.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Keep Givin' 'Em Hell, Alan!

I can envision a near-future TV sitcom where I as the "every-man" narrator give the audience a rundown of the weekly shenanigans and eye-popping media-whore-orgy that is Alan Grayson...My Representative.

It'd be called: "That's My Rep, Yo!"

Grayson would be portrayed by Daniel-Day Lewis or maybe Tom Hanks and would personify the sole voice of reason in a corrupt and broken system. The Ubermench for modern America!

In the meantime, until that project is greenlighted, we have the real world Alan Grayson and his attempts to out the Republicans for what they are...greedy, hating, evil mo'fos! But the Mo'fos control the House so he will be silenced, of course. Heil Bachman! (Or whatever Neo-Nazi they're allying with nowadays)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Woonsocket The Musical

Apparently, sometime in 1982 when I was graduating high school in this eponymous city, some guy was shooting this decidedly low budget movie. Lots of memories within these grainy, age-faded 8mm images. And if you know the locales and mythos of Woonsocket lore, you'd be able to better appreciate the tongue-in-cheek lyrics of these horrible songs. Ah, once a Woonsocketite, always a Woonsocketite.

Friday, October 11, 2013

On The Nightshift

Gonna be a long night, it's gonna be all right on the nightshift
You found another home, I know you're not alone on the nightshift
Nightshift - The Commodores

So this week a new employee started her hours on the night shift and seeing her, slowly, yet ever so progressively, disintegrate into a pile of limp flesh in rumpled clothing reminded me yet again how difficult living the night shift lifestyle is for most people. For me, I feel pretty acclimated by now but living the life comes at a great price of course.

People don't realize what it takes to do it. Most people wouldn't even consider it. They logically know that it means flipping from a normal diurnal sleep cycle and they immediately realize this would cut into their accustomed patterns of eating at "normal" times, working and socializing, and generally living amongst the majority of their friends, family and community. They may not fully realize that it means allocating time during the day, every day, to sleep in order to handle staying up all night. And not just a cat nap...that'll get you by for a few days at most...you'll eventually need to sleep a full eight. Or suffer. They might remember all-nighters they may have done studying for exams in their school days or for other occasions and recall the fatigue and stress of sleep deprivation. They probably think all night shift people have this deprived state of being all the time. A perpetual jet-lag, without the perks of actually going anywhere. And some (like Eric) do, in fact, operate that way. For how long? Not long for most. Somethings gotta give.

But some people like Kimmesha, the 22-year-old girl who just started her overnight hours this week, are smart enough to know that you've got to shift around things in your previous life, many things that were taken for granted in fact, and impose an "unnatural" pattern to your daily regimen. Yet knowing that a new timetable is needed and implementing it are two different things. She, like many others who have tried, and, other than Eric so far, have failed, has a child. Being what I'd classify as a child herself, this must mean it's a baby. Lord help her.

She told me at the beginning of the week, when she was still plucky and fresh, how she'd planned her sleeptime to coincide with her baby's day-care. Of course by week's end, she was apologetic to me, though I'm not put out by her falling asleep in her chair. She'll need to save that apology for her neck and back in a few years when the limberness of youth fades away.

Fades, like the long, dark and quiet night into the dawning sunlight stabbing into your bleary, bloodshot eyes.

Monday, October 07, 2013

New Stuff At Universal Studios

I went to the original park yesterday and took some photos of some of the new stuff installed since the last time I came. Pretty interesting.

Here's a couple of pics of the new Transformers ride. An exterior shot of the entrance and a character meet-and-greet with Optimus Prime. This thing (at the meet-and-greet) really moved around and shit too, maybe remote control? IDK.



Here I captured some Top Secret under construction shots of the soon-to-be Daigon Alley expansion of the other park's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Though I'm not a über-fanatical follower, I am looking forward to this. It looks major...at least a couple more rides...and with the monorail connection to IOA via the Hogwarts Express themed transport vehicle. Oh, this will be sweet.




Here's the coaster I haven't been on yet. Chickened out today and still haven't been on it.


Here we see iconic landmarks in the new Springfield themed area near the Simpson's ride. What was before a nondescript food court and some wasted space is, well, the same, except now it's Simpson's themed, you see. Oh, and the Duff Beer one is a bar. Yay! 




I had lunch at the Nascar Cafe again. I've got to remind myself it's not what it used to be. The food is much worse. But the view is great. Here's a couple shots from where I sat. I love Orlando.


Friday, October 04, 2013

Surprisingly Good

After last week's folly at the Amway Center I was really leery about how well I'd enjoy the musical I went to last night, "Mamma Mia!" Again I was forced to squeeze my butt into a tiny, moldy Bob Carr seat but that was really the only negative of the night. The performance, the music and even the sound system, lighting and staging were all superb.

I'd never seen this musical before and I hadn't seen the movie so I really had no clue as to what it was about. I vaguely knew it was about a young girl about to be married on a Greek island. I really feared it might be a musical version of something like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with lots of sterotypically loud and boisterous ethnic people. Thankfully it wasn't.

Wow, that comes across racist, eh? It's just that although I don't mind rom-coms revolving around that tried-and-true-though-somewhat-overused quirky ethnic family theme, the wonderful "Moonstruck" comes to mind, I was in the mood for less garlic and more "gaiety," like "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Well, that's what this was exactly! It was, essentially, "Priscilla" without the drag queens. It even had a lot of the same music, some Day-Glo costuming and a splash or two of hot shirtless men. Gots to have me my hot shirtless men!

The plot was a bit far-out-there but that's not at all unheard of in musical farce. Think of "The Producers" and how unrealistic that plot was. Doesn't detract from anything since the silliness of it all just adds to the fun. The score...one word ABBA. If, like me, you've loved ABBA from the start and continued to do so even when it wasn't cool, you'll know and love the score. (I actually remember the derision I endured back in the seventies when some kids in class asked me what groups I liked to listen to and I stupidly admitted "ABBA." My rep was sealed for the rest of my school days. I was a fag. LOL now, but a pain in the ass back then.)

There were parts that were sung more subtly and scenes where the dialog and action was muted, attempting to reiterate ad-infinitum the plot premise. Yes, we get it, these guys are the potential daddies and mommy doesn't know why there here. It got repetitive and draggy and started to make me sleepy. But it wasn't long before a rousing ABBA tune was belted out accompanied by super-energetic dancing to snap me out of my stupor.

Overall, it definitely made up for the Italian Idol blunder of last week. And, since the only downside was again, the seating, it made the Bob Carr tolerable for yet one last time. Well, maybe. The new venue, from the still exposed iron I-beam skeleton of it, isn't going to be finished until, I'd guess, late next year. So my butt better get thinner 'cause I may have to plop down in one of those nasty, creaky kiddie chairs yet again.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

GTA V: The Ballad Of Gay Everyone


So like millions of other gamers across the entire world, I got GTA V and have been playing it virtually non-stop. Being on vacation this week, I've been able to devote mad hours sitting back in my comfortable leather executive chair and basically crashing into, shooting and blowing up every mutha fucka in my way. That's the essential goal in all GTA titles of course...mayhem. Pure mayhem.

I just last night "beat the game" and finished all the main missions. This is the first GTA in which I even had the enthusiasm to do so...a big hand to its creators...they've got a really well designed, balanced and, most importantly, fun game here. But I do come away scratching my head a bit. (And it ain't 'cause I've been playing so much I've neglected showering. Well, I have, but that's not the reason for the itch.)

What the fuck is with all the homosexual innuendo?

The storyline features three main characters, two of which (Michael and Trevor) have an ever-constantly alluded to mysterious past which seems, at least in the incessant whining and just general "drama" Trevor kicks up anytime Michael is around or discussed, well, gay. It's like former lovers who've had a bitter breakup and are now forced to deal with each other, years later, and the wounds that have never quite healed over time.

Trevor right from the get go seemed "a bit off" as they used to say. And it wasn't just the obvious psycho-derivative, hot-headed trailer trash persona he was purposely designed to portray. His dialogue was rife with some gay sex remark with virtually every sentence. He lives "alone" but has a weird nerdy neighbor (who's probably a slight nod to the odd coke-bottle glasses wearing character (Bubbles) in the Canadian TV show "Trailer Park Boys ") who's always in his trailer. Trevor also has a protege of sorts; Wade, a twenties-something dreadlock-sporting sycophant who's constantly abused both verbally and physically by Trevor but comes loyally back again and again to do Trevor's deranged bidding. During one cutscene, Trevor quips that Wade could beat him off while they drive into the city. When Wade questions this Trevor chuckles and says, "No, not really. You can suck me off instead!"

In the end (The way Trevor likes it I bet. See, now I'm doing it!) the Trevor/Michael thing is never fully resolved. Their's a weird, possibly Stockholm-syndrome influenced relationship Trevor has with an older lady he kidnapped and later released, but it actually comes across as a bit Oedipus-complex-ish, if you ask me. And speaking of Oedipus-complex, Trevor's mother actually makes an appearance towards the end of the main storyline. What does she have to say about all the gay sex jokes, the homo-erotic tension and continual self-denial triggered homophobic attitudes portrayed by her son and all the men around him?

I don't remember. I was drunk by the time she arrived on the scene and passed out having earned my characters close to $30 mil in cash.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gina Washin' Time!

Oh I'm truly a sick motherfucker in case you didn't already know.

My upstairs neighbor, the one right above me who has been the bane of my existence here for the past year now, occasionally* has these little kids over, one of whom, at least, is likely hers. Anyway, the second they arrive in the parking lot I can tell 'cause these kids literally never shut up. I have no fucking idea how the adult or adults around them can hold back from just bitch slappin' these little terrors.

(*I say occasionally like it's totally happenstance but I'm sure there's some "arrangement" of when they come over. I don't know her situation. Although I did a bit of sleuthing a while back and I think I may know her name and background to some extent (including the eerie coincidence that she may have lived for a while in Woonsocket, RI! I think I posted about this before.)

Thankfully I'm not friendly with them upstairs 'cause if I was and she ever dared ask if I could "watch" them I'd have to clamp my mouth shut to prevent me telling her that I'd likely kill the fuckin' brats, chop them up, bag 'em and toss them in the dumpster. When they would ask where the kids are I'd play dumb and say "What kids?"

Anyway, again, I can hear them almost non-stop whenever they are here. Thankfully, their squacky, squeaking fingernails-on-blackboard voices are stifled from my ears once they are inside up there (yeah, the floors are thin but not THAT thin where I could hear them talking) but their pitter-patter ever-present footsteps are incessant. So they're not only noisy, they're hyper too.

Oh they'd definitely be roach food buried in the bowels of the compacting dumpster and I'd be in prison on death row. Oh well, I could hook up with my little buddy Andrew. Yeah, I'd finally "get some" for a while, anyway, 'till the night I had to walk the "green mile."

On nights like tonight, sometime around now (probably while I write this) I'll undoubtedly hear the unmistakable "squeak, squeak" sound of the bathtub faucet turning. And I know, it's "gina washin' time!" ("gina" pronounced with a long "i")Time to get them lil' girls, probably together, in the hot bubble bath and sponge them up. 'Cludin' their little vaginas. Gots to get 'em squeaky clean, 'cause it's GINA WASHIN' TIME!! (Sung to a beat like this in the video below.)



OMG! I swear, right on cue! I just now heard the squeak! It's 7:52 pm. Do I know my neighbors or what?!

I'm such a freak.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Amazing Comeback

I love a great comeback story. To me, it sums up the essence of life. Rarely does anyone have it so well that one sails (intentional pun tying into subject of this post) through all obstacles one meets with total abandon. Life is a challenge and a tough one for most. And you will have set backs and you will have comebacks. That's the way it is.

I suppose yesterday's unbelievable win by Team Oracle USA in the America's Cup challenge is something of the like many sports fans are a bit more accustomed to since they may witness great comebacks on a regular basis no matter what their preferred sport is that they endeavor (another slight pun in line with the Americas Cup) to follow. Well, maybe not of this phenomenal caliber. Not being into sports at all, really, I get floored when I see historical moments happen like this week's ultimate comeback victory.

Here's a rundown of the matches during this competition and as you can see, it looked bleak for Oracle in the early races as Team Kiwi, the New Zealand challenger made impressive ground.


Add to this drama the plot twist that Team Oracle was burdened with a penalty...she would need to win by 2 extra matches in order to retain the Cup. It'd been determined that there had been some impropriety regarding a weigh-in during qualifiers last year, or something like that. Suffice it to say, the challenger had a huge advantage. Being that they were a past Cup winner and an immensely fierce team, I'm sure the handlers caring for the Cup were getting its packing crate ready for the sad voyage back to the other "land down-under."

But amazingly, the America's Cup will in fact stay in America. Actually, while most people assume the Cup is named for our country, in fact it was named for the first winner of the Cup, the schooner "America" which won stewardship of the trophy in 1851, which they donated to the New York Yacht Club and it was successfully defended in contest after contest until 1983 (a race which I witnessed a bit of in person since, back then, the event was held in my home state of Rhode Island).

Congratulations Team Oracle USA! I read something of the nature that they were thinking of holding the next challenge somewhere other than San Francisco. Don't know if that's true but if I can plea a little plea for my homies back in Lil' Rhody, it would probably be enthusiastically welcomed back in Newport.

Or maybe another gorgeous oceanside locale with lots of tourist traffic, and, entirely much easier for me to attend? Like, maybe...Miami? Hmm. Think about it.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Miss iGoogle Already

True, iGoogle is still around but not for long. Google has notified users of their customizable start page that they'll be pulling the plug on iGoogle on November 1st. (I wish they'd dump their Spell Check..."customizable" isn't a word? It complains that it's spelled wrong but doesn't offer a correct spelling, so I guess it's not a word. Huh. I kinda think it is. So does Dictionary.com, so there.)

In light of the fact that, yet again with Google, change WILL be OPPRESSED upon us lowly users, I've tried to get used to the most-similar replacement I could find, Proto Page. Here's a screen shot:


It's "okay" but it's no iGoogle. Where even iGoogle's look and feel harken back to the cusp of the Web 1.0 to 2.0 evolution (back in the ancient days of, oh say...2006!), Proto Page is definitely of the 1.0 generation. It's super simplified. Quite speedy to pull up but it looks quite dated due to its olde-fashioned layout.  Like an old Geocities web page. A small step up from just simple line after line of HTML text, like this guy's current (yet entirely retro-looking) site. A look still favored by aesthetically-challenged geeks, but so is ASCII for Christ's sake. (Random memory: Remember ASCII art signatures on Usenet? Oh, those were the days! I bet they still use them. Usenet geeks, that is. I wouldn't know, I haven't checked out a newsgroup, like most of normal humanity, since the '90s.)

Also, these widgets are quite limited. Only a few news feeds for example where as iGoogle had like hundreds to choose from. Here in the above screen shot you see the CNN.com world news widget and it lists crap like "Why I'll never ditch my Blackberry." Really?? Since when does filler shit like this warrant being on a list of just 9 headlines as a "top story?" Cryin' out loud.

Here, as a reference tool is a shot of my endangered iGoogle page. Much more pertinent information at a single glance. Oh how I miss you already:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Il No No

A couple of weeks ago, I was putzing around on the YouTubes when I stumbled across a music video of this trio of teenboy singers who, at the time, I thought sounded fucking amazing. And, they looked hot to boot. Then, I found out that they were touring and they'd be playing Orlando on September 22nd. What serendipity, I thought. Great! And without a moments hesitation I purchased a ticket to see them. It wasn't cheap either...$70 for the cheap seats.

As the weeks rolled closer to last night, I did start to have second thoughts. Not only about the expense but for the impulse purchase itself. I didn't know this singing group from shit. I assumed they'd be like a young teen version of the Three Tenors, singing operatic classics with just a slight flavoring of modern flair.

Well last night came. I went. And boy was I disappointed.

First off, this concert did give me, finally, the opportunity to check out the new Amway Center. My impressions: Meh. It's slick and new-millennium groovy in its design and decor, I'll give it that, but it didn't seem all that vast. I think Providence Civic Center was (and is as Dunkin' Donuts Center now) just as big. The big hassle was the fact that you had to take the elevators as opposed to just climbing stairs to get from floor to floor. I was on the Club floor (4th) and the concessions were on the 3rd. I couldn't just walk down I had to take the elevator. Which was manned, BTW. A modern elevator with an elevator operator? That's right, you told him/her what floor and they PUSHED A FREAKIN' BUTTON! That's it. No wonder the ticket prices were so high, they have throw-away jobs like this on their payroll. Oh and the concession prices...they made theme park prices seem like a discount! $9.75 for a beer!

Next, there was the fact that the house was like not even half full. And the people that were here? Italians. I sat next to these two women, probably mother and daughter and at first look, being so familiar with Spanish I thought they were Spanish. (Spanish in the racist sense meaning all people of Hispanic background) But they were Italian, as evidenced by their language when speaking to one another. We were the only people in our entire section BTW.

Finally, when Il Volo finally came out on stage they belted out flowery, saccharine love song after love song. All in Italian of course, save a couple heavily-accented English ditties. Real shlocky stuff. I'd call it teen girl swoon music but it was operatic and over-the-top dramatic so much of the fan base, as I could tell from the audience, seemed to be couples. Couples in love. I must have looked like a fish outta water. I certainly felt like it.

I made it to the intermission because I was at least gonna hold out for "O Solo Mio" which I had seen their video of so I knew they'd do it, but they hadn't in the first half and I was more than ready to book so I did.

Well that was an expensive mistake. Ah well, at least it got me out of the house. 'Been playin' GTA V on my new PS3 almost non stop. More on that in another post.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm Back, Bitches!

Thus was my jubilant scream, literally, as I whirled upside-down on "The Incredible Hulk Coaster" yesterday. That's right, I fit again. In case you don't remember, even though I'd been to IOA and the original Universal park many times after passing 300 pounds in weight, I hadn't been able to ride most coasters due to size constraints. Even the "fat people seats."

Finally after years of embarrassing sadness and coaster deprivation illness (a real sickness I think, or at least it should be) I was able to fit on not only "Hulk" but "Dueling Dragons" too! (Ya, I know it's "Dragon Challenge" now in order to fit the HP theme but it'll always be "DD" to me.) Still a bit snugly, mind you, but hopefully soon I'll have a bit more cubic inches of empty space between me and the restraints to enjoy some of those sweet zero G's like they should.

But you know the best? Remember how I couldn't fit, despite multiple attempts on the "Forbidden Journey Ride"? And when I asked Ric and others how it rated, they were like "great"? Well, I got my ass in this time, and had room to spare. And now I know they were not entirely truthful with me by saying the ride was merely "great"...it was FREAKING AWESOME!

It's just sad that it took me, a guy who LIVES here in Orlando, and has had several annual passes since the opening, THREE YEARS to enjoy this experience!

Alas, my day would have been perfect and I would have gone on to conquer more rides from which my wide load was prohibited these past few years but I got sick. The heat (which wasn't that bad, really, I guess it's the meds I'm on) and my shoulder were too much by mid-afternoon. Back when I was heavier, it would usually be fatigue from all the walking my 300 pound bulk had to endure. Walking was no problem yesterday at all. I really do think it's the muscle relaxers, pain meds mixed with a little beer which got to me.

I got off "Forbidden Journey" and thought the ride was surprisingly rough (happily), pitching and tossing me about. I was queasy and a little nauseous but fought through it. Figured I'd just hold off on getting my third beer just yet. But then in the midst of one of the barrel rolls of "Dueling Dragons," I knew I had to blow chunks. Luckily, I held it together 'till I found a little side exit off the exiting queue corridor (like some employee only area it seemed) that was devoid of people and had a handy trash bin. It quickly became the recipient of my vomited $15 worth of theme park priced beer.

So I drove home, feeling a bit dizzy, but also I felt elated that I'd achieved what I'd wanted to for so long. And my regret of having to leave so early yesterday will be compensated for by many more planned visits. I decided to go with the Preferred Pass this year, ooh la la! $270 but free parking and no blackout days.

How sweet it is to be back in the saddle again!

Oh, BTW, Here's some video I shot of the Hogwarts Frog Choir. How cute!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sometimes I Wonder...

So tweeted Haley Star as I saw it on my Twitter feed at 3:12.

Indeed Haley, I also "sometimes wonder."

A whole new world...

My shoulder is still in pain, but now I've rearranged my life to "just deal with it." Needless to say, Naproxen is my crutch, and triple strength sports cream, once thought of as a pleasant menthol fresh smell is now regarded as the stench of infirmity. Probably going to get an MRI and see a orthopedic surgeon. Oh the joys of middle aged-ness.

Perhaps as a respite from my middle-aged woes, I've started to become totally addicted to young gay guy vlogs on YouTube. They don't even have to be hot (though it certainly is appreciated) just young. This 18-26 generation (the Millennial Generation?) is different than the other, oh I guess, the other two or three I've seen come and go in the decades since my own Baby Boomer generation aged itself past that point. They seem...purposeful. And whereas prior generations, including my own, tended to waver off into a myriad of differing directions, this one seems to be connected subconsciously to each other, following one positive and optimistic path. I think they're actually going to achieve something of the likes not seen since the 60's beat generation. (The somewhat later "hippies" just emulated and made more visual the ideals and views of the beat generation just before them.)

I have a weeks vacation coming up soon and boy, I need it. Ryon, the chubby black dude who replaced David rapidly spiraled into his own tailspin and just couldn't hack the fucked up lifestyle of an overnight shift worker. He had already had a notorious rep for being late and one too many hours long tardies earned him a pretty little pink slip. And now to make matters worse, were down one man at nights and we have a previously benign happy-go-lucky (for the most part) resident deciding to go all ape shit this week. Not aggressive like my younger days experiences with this population but just out right loony and needing virtually 1:1 ratio attention which we are definitely not equipped to provide. New stressor. Yeah!

Watching the Yogscast playing multiplayer Civ BNW has made me homesick. (Can you be "homesick" for a digital existence? In this new world you can.) I want to start playing it multiplayer again. And maybe even contacting Ric for a game two...

(BTW, spellcheck complains about "multiplayer." Really Google? And you should know better than most. For that matter, it also doesn't accept "vlog." Really? You know it's 2013, right?)

I just woke up from my Sunday morning nap and I have my candles lit, chillaxin'. Lettin' my mind find solice in simply just "wondering."